Canada near bottom of heap when it comes to energy efficiency: report

My colleague David Olive at the Toronto Star has an excellent column today about how Canada, despite boastful talk out of the Harper government, has eight reasons to curb its enthusiasm when it comes to how well it’s doing relative to the rest of the world. Business spending on R&D and venture capital investment as a percentage of GDP are ridiculously low. We have a pathetic labour productivity growth rate. The income inequality gap is growing while it shrinks in Europe. Our infrastructure deficit is widening. That’s just a taste of what Olive highlights.

Now today, the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy is reporting a new detailed study that ranks Canada 11th out of 12 of the world’s largest economies. Seems when it comes to energy efficiency, the only country Canada is capable of beating is Russia.  (You need to register to access details of the full report).

The council analyzed more than 25 different energy efficiency indicators or “metrics” to determine a total country score out of a possible 100. In addition to an overall ranking, it also ranked countries under specific categories: buildings, transportation, industry and “national effort.” Our best ranking came with national effort, but even then, all we could do is achieve 8th place. On industry we ranked 10th, and with both buildings and transportation we ranked 11th.

When you dig into the report there are some interesting statistics. Canada ranks dead last when it comes to oil consumption per person, and we come third last when oil consumption is measured as a percentage of GDP. We also rank second last for our energy-efficiency policies. The report makes for some very insightful reading, but what it shows overall is that the Great North Strong and Free is a big laggard when it comes to energy efficiency, and that is ultimately going to affect our productivity and competitiveness on the world stage. It also reinforces our growing reputation as a major roadblock to serious action on climate change.

Corporate Knights is currently working on a G20 Clean Capitalism Country ranking that will appear in our summer (September) issue. It will be interesting to learn how we rank when all environmental, social and governance criteria are lumped together. Stay tuned…